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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Bullies of the Bible part 4: the Sinful Nature

Bullies love to break the rules and they love it even more if they are gathering followers while breaking those rules.  And, one of the biggest bullies in our lives that does exactly this is the sinful nature or the sin that dwells within our hearts. It has the power to entice us to do things that we know are wrong.

I love how the apostle Paul puts it when he is speaking about this bully. He says,”Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. ” OR “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (ROMANS 7:16-17, 19-20)

James also talks about the sinful nature in  this way,”But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  (James 1: 14&15)

Desire calls to all of us in one way or another. For some of us, it is memories of things consumed in the past like; sex or pornography, drugs or alcohol. For others, it is the thought of what they can do to be liked, or thoughts about how they can attain to that covetted position at work. It is different for all of us but desire is just the first level of how the sinful nature bullies us.

According to James, the next thing that happens through this bully’s reign is that those memories or thoughts become sin. Let me state that day-dreaming about certain desires does not always culminate into sin. But, if we continue to allow these desires to control our thoughts; as James says; they will bring forth sin just as a pregnant woman will eventually give birth to a child.

So, know the past thought or desires of the feeling that are associated with being high or inebriated and escaping reality for a while becomes actually partaking in those habits. The conniving about how to get the promotion is now stabbing coworkers in the back to climb your way to the top. How about the thoughts of being liked where do they lead? To disappointment in yourself for compromising all that God has made you to be just to be liked.

So, after this bully gives birth to sin, the Word says that sin grows up and leads to death. That is scary. This is the level at which addiction truly is present. I mean why not; desire has gotten out of control, which lead to the act of sinning over and over again. Then, when your morality meter is skewed and you have to consume more to get the same feeling(delusion) of relief or make more compromises to make more friends death become imminent.  Face it, at this stage, YOU ARE HOOKED! And without outside influences, death, in so many ways, is right around the corner.

Paul, when describing the sinful nature or warning us about it, said: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.(ROMANS 6:12)

And Jesus said,”Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

And Peter says,”They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.“(2 Peter 2:19) I love this whole chapter because it points to a group of people whom have been lead astray by the sinful nature and are now slaves to it. And we can see that as slaves they want more people to be enslave and to worship with them. In my mind this is where the concept of “misery loves company”  finds its meaning.

Paul says again in Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?.”

Slaves. What a concept, even in this day! Being controlled by another can be hard especially when your master does not obey the things of God. There are two kinds of slaves. The first is one whom hates his master because his master beats him, keeps him down, makes him powerless and rips his life from him. There is no joy in the life of this slave only empty broken promises.

The other kind of slave is one whom loves his master and has chosen to become bonded to him. His master loves him and nurtures him wanting him to enjoy life under His rule. He gives him life abundantly. This master thinks of his slaves as sons and daughters. I love how Jesus put it in John. He says,”No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).”

Even Jesus, the one whom now calls us friends, gives us a warning about being bullied by and allowing ourselves the become slaves of the sinful nature. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

The bullies that we have visited as of now are all ones whom have no power of us, however this is not the case with the sinful nature and it will not be the case with Satan who is our next bully.  Jesus came to set us free of the chains of sin that entangle us. Jesus has been and is still and always will be the answer in my life and i believe that he could be in yours as well. Jesus is the answer!

Prayer: Oh Abba, Father at times I have allowed sin to reign in my life. I have chosen to walk in the darkness instead of fully committing my life to the light. Your light. The only light. FATHER please cleanse me of all unrighteousness. In Jesus’s name. Amen

Faith in the Face of Despair

Have you ever felt like everything was against you? These past couple of weeks, I have felt this way. Problem after problem. I have been feeling this overwhelming pressure caving in on me, almost like being in a deep whole that just keeps getting deeper with no view of the top.

I have constantly been reminding myself of what Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world”(John 16:33) or Solomon penned:”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight”(Proverds 3:4&5). And they have been the driving force in crawling through these problems.

Sometimes, I swear I feel like I can hear my heavenly Father whispering these things to me in his still small voice. And one of the many things I love about my heavenly Father is that he always draws my attention to his Word to show me how he worked in the lives of others, is working in my life and will continue to show me his faithfulness throughout all of eternity.

So, in everything that is going on right now in my life God has brought me to two different people in scripture. Two people who when up against insurmountable odds and what they chose to focus on.

First: Rehoboam. In 2 Chronicles 12 the Word of God says,”When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord , and all Israel with him. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord , Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people were without number who came with him from Egypt—Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians.

Rehoboam chose to put his focus on his army and its strength rather than walking with the LORD, so the LORD turned them over to be servants to Shishak the king of Egypt. Shishak also plundered the treasuries of the king’s house as well as the treasuries of the house of the LORD.

Second: Abijah. Abijah was Rehoboam son however he loved the LORD. In fact, there was this time when Judah and Israel were at war against each other and the favor would have seemed to be in Israel’s corner. Israel had 800,000 mighty men of war were as Judah had only half of that. So, here is king Abijah still wet behind the ears confronting an army that has won many wars. And I just love what he says. He says,

Hear me, O Jeroboam and all Israel! Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his Lord, and certain worthless scoundrels gathered about him and defied Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them. “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods. Have you not driven out the priests of the Lord , the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes for ordination with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods. But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the Lord who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service. They offer to the Lord every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have forsaken him. Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord , the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.”(2 Chronicles 13:4‭-12)

I love this Abijah is basically saying,” Hey Israel you have abandoned the LORD God and his commands and have placed your faith in two golden calves that were made by human hands. But we have not abandoned the LORD our God in fact we have Levites continually presenting offering for us. We love God and He is on our side!”

The whole time Abijah was speaking to Israel, Jeroboam had sent some of his army around Jerusalem’s army to attack them from behind them. However because of Abijah’s devotion to the LORD especially in the face of what would have been complete destruction, God delivered them from their foes. God destroyed 500,000 man from Israel’s army and Jeroboam for the rest of his life was never able to rebuild his army.

So, God has shown me these two men here; one who put all his faith in his own strength and the strength of his army and another man who put all of his faith in the God who has never failed. And He has done this to help me get through what I am going through.

The other morning, I was praying for some relief from all that has been going on in my life when I heard that still small voice again, asking me if His arms have been shortened. Something about my prayer life you need to know is that I love praying the Word of God, so his voice lead me in prayer and it restored my faith to where it should have been. He was and is making me more like Abijah, more like Christ.

Now as for what he spoke to me, “have my arms been shortened”, well that is right out of Numbers 11. Israel is in the wilderness and complaining yet again. Deceiving them selves with lies of what they had back in Egypt. So, God says to Moses prepare them because He is going to give them so much pheasant to eat that it will; at the end of 30 days; be coming out of their noses. And Moses response to this was,” we couldn’t slaughter enough livestock to feed such a great multitude. Even if all the fish of the sea where gathered together they would not be enough.”  To this God says,” Have my arms been shortened.”(NIV)

God was saying ‘Am I not able to do this?’ And this is exactly what he was saying to me. And you know He did, He came through. Praise God for His mercy, His grace, His love, and His benevolence.

Prayer:

Oh most holy Father, I love that you are faithful. I love that you see everything that we go through and that in those times of where we need more strength you give it. Thank you LORD for all you do in our lives. In Jesus’s name, Amen

Bullies of the Bible part three: Jezebel. 

The past two posts had to do with the comparisons between big league Bullies of the Bible and addiction. This week, I am going to continue moving in that direction.

Bullies are known notoriously for taking things from others and leaving a path of devastation behind them. You know, in my mind I am not and nor have I ever been a small person and I would not consider myself a nerd. But, I have been Bullied not only by addiction but also by people.

I remember in 4th or 5th grade riding the bus home from school and being accosted by a bigger guy. I remember having this smooth glossy grey rock that was said to help relieve anxiety and I carried it everywhere. Well, this guy used his size and took it from me and threw it out the window of the bus. And for weeks afterwards, he teased me and egged me on until one day I took a swing at him.

Let me say that was a big mistake, however, the only way I can describe this event would be to point you at the movie Back to the Future (1985, Zemeckis). To the scene at the dance where George Mcfly finally decides to stand up to Biff over his treatment of George’s future wife (sorry, I don’t remember her name). George was half the size of Biff, Biff was a jock and had loads of muscles where George was well skinny and small and unlikely to be able to lick Biff in anything outside of academics. Anyway, George stood up to Biff and laid him out.

That, however, wasn’t the case here. I swung at this bully, got my arm twisted, and my face pushed into the seat of the bus. You know, there is one trait about Bullies that is similar across the board, they operate by the use of force to take things that aren’t theirs. An example of this could be that rock, lunch money, or now a days credit at work for something you worked so hard on, and so on. This is definitely how Jezebel  operated!

In 1 Kings 21, there was a man named Naboth. Naboth had a vineyard next to the palace. Now, Ahab the king of Samaria wanted this vineyard for himself for a vegetable garden and offered Naboth a better vineyard or money for it. Naboth told Ahab that it was against the law of God to give up inheritance of his father’s.  In the Book of Numbers, Moses tells Israel the law which God wants them to follow regarding the land they are going to possess (their inheritance).  This law is: “No inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another, for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall hold on to its own inheritance.'” (Numbers 36:9)

See, Ahab haled from the tribe of Ephraim and Naboth came from the tribe of Issachar. So, if Naboth had given Ahab his land he would have broken God’s law. Not just that, Naboth’s family for hundreds of years has been tending that land; that vineyard. Naboth has taken pride in all He has done on his land. His heart, his blood, his sweat, and his tears has gone into it. So, it is no wonder why he said no to Ahab.

Now, upon Ahab hearing that Naboth would not give him his land, Ahab went to his wife Jezebel. And, she had Naboth killed, took his land and gave it to her husband.

Jezebel, in her time, also tried to wipe out all of God’s prophets. She was a nasty woman.

There is a tragic similarity between Jezebel’s bullying and addiction. Really, Jezebel’s life and addiction! Both of them take things that don’t belong to them; like life, time, and possessions. Both lead people astray to worship at the altars of idols. Both can lead or do lead to death. Deaths of friendships, families, marriages, jobs, and even life.

Prayer: Oh Abba, Father thank you so much for bring this to my attention and showing me how bad things can get if I continue to sow into the flesh. Father please deliver me from sin’s chains, and continue to whisper to me that they no longer have any power over me because of my dear saviors death and resurrection. I pray all of this in the name above all names; in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Back to the Future. Robert Zemeckis, Universal Studios, California, 1985

The Comparison of Bullies of the Bible and the Bullies of Addiction: David and how giving into that addictive behavior will have you pushing away your friends.

This is a hard comparison for me because David is one of my favorite people in God’s Word. So many of the things he has written in the book of Psalms I have used in my prayers. Things like;  Psalms 27:4 “One thing I have asked of the Lord , that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” Or Psalm 51:10 Oh LORD,” Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Or Psalm 84,”For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Or how about Psalm 119:105,” Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Many of the Psalms are David’s prayers and my prayer life has grown immensely because of his words.

He has taught me that God is my mighty fortress, my strong tower, my shield and my rampart. David has taught me that I can run and find refuge under God’s mighty wings(Psalm 57:1). 

David is a man after God’s own heart(2 Samuel 13:14). He was the king of the old testament that all other kings were stacked up against. Yet he was also a man that suffered from an addiction to lust. I mean he had 8 wives and 10 concubines and the things he did to obtain at least two of those wives point to this fact. And we are going to talk the circumstances surrounding David obtaining Bathsheba as a wife.  

I know Bathsheba, Bathsheba, Bathsheba. But this is more about the relationship between Uriah the hittite and King David. Uriah is listed as one of the mighty men in 1 Chronicles 12. I believe that when David fled from King Saul and came to Nob and received the holy bread from Ahimelech that his mighty men were with him. And the Word points to this by Ahimelech stating,” I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread-if the young men have kept themselves from women.”(1 Samuel 21:4)

King Saul also made David a commander of a thousand in his army. I believe that this is where David met Uriah and the rest of his mighty men.  So David went out and came in before the people. And he had great success in all He undertook(18:12-14).

 Another time we see David with his men is in procuring the bridal price for Michal. Line 27 says that David rose and went with his men and killed two hundred Philistines. Again we see David with his men and Uriah was one of his them.

When David fled from King Saul and dwelled in the cave at Adullam his men were with him; Uriah was with him. They were together with whole Nabal debacle.  They were a band of brothers, no they were the band of brothers. So the next part was not easy for David. 

David’s addiction to lust and sex lead him to the brink. Yeah he slept with Bathsheba. Yeah she got pregnant. But the part where he played the Bully was trying to trick Uriah into submitting to his command and when he could no longer cover up the fruits of his yielding to his addiction. He had a brother killed. And Uriah’s death in David’s mind would cover it all up and everything would just be peachy. Which wasn’t the case and isn’t the case for us. 

Like David when we give into sin we do things we will regret and the people closest to us can become hurt, or even worse the death of a relationship may happen. In the story of David and Uriah there was a person that was able to bring David back in the End. God  

Prayer: Oh Father,I need you help, I need you to be my rock. Please continue the good work you started in me. In Jesus name, amen .